Updated: Apr 24
One of the biggest concerns puppy parents will complain about is puppy biting. Those milk teeth are as sharp as anything. If you have small children in the house, the problem only gets worse when Puppy decides that your toddler makes a good chew toy.
But, let's be clear, puppy biting is no more misbehavior than a toddler sticking random objects in their mouth! Puppy is not trying to dominate you or even hurt you, they are trying to play.
Puppies explore the world with their noses and mouths. They wrestle around with their mother and littermates and they bite on each other and it's great fun! Then you take the puppy home and guess what? It's still a puppy! The littermates might be gone, but they have you and your kids now to play with, so they proceed to play as puppies do, with their teeth!
It then becomes our job to teach puppies that while other puppies might be OK with the biting and mouthing, people are not ok with that. But don't be too quick to discourage biting altogether! First, Puppy needs to learn bite inhibition. Basically, they need to be taught that biting hurts. Because remember, hurting you is not their goal, playing with you is. In learning that biting hurts, Puppy will also learn to modify the force of their bite. Once the puppy's bite is super soft, then we can teach them not to bite at all.
So where do you start?
1. Get your puppy enrolled in a puppy class!
Yes, you'll want to feed them to all the other little land sharks! It's the quickest way for your puppy to learn that biting hurts. They will also notice that when they bite a little too hard, the other puppies yelp real loud and become avoidant. But your puppy wants to play, not be avoided! So they will learn to modify the force of their bite so as to join in on all the fun.
2. Teach your puppy that biting hurts humans too.
Puppy class has already given your puppy healthy respect for bite force. Use this to your advantage to help them learn that it hurts humans too. You don't need to yelp like a puppy, your dog knows you're not a dog! But you do need to behave as though you are hurt. As soon as you feel any teeth, just say "Ow!" and pull away. Your puppy already knows from puppy class that hard bites kill playtime. Now they are learning the same is true with humans! If your puppy is persistent and just will not stop, then pull away and walk away. Shut the door, leave your puppy alone for a while, and then try again. You do this enough and your puppy will begin to notice a pattern, biting = no more fun.
3. Make the bite softer and softer.
You'll notice after steps one and two that Puppy's bites have become much less painful, or not painful at all. That's great, but we want even softer bites! So keep pretending that it hurts, even if it doesn't. We want puppies to think Humans are just the weakest most delicate creatures with paper skin. So keep saying "ow!" even if they only got your shirt. The bites will get so soft, they will eventually be phased out, no more puppy biting.
For more information, tips, and advice on treating puppy biting and ending all your dog behavior woes, get in touch with us!